Remember When Topps Offered Easy Money? The Bowman Guarantee

And the card companies try to tell us that collecting isn't about the money. Why then would Topps offer a "price guarantee" for Bowman set collectors between 1997 and 2000. The basic premise went like this: in the years the program ran you'd send a coupon in (along with a processing fee of $5.00 - checks or money orders only, please) and you'd reserve your right to sell Topps a complete set of Bowman Baseball three years later for $125 if you so chose. The Bowman Guarantee was a genius marketing gimmick that I suspect few took advantage of.

125_Guarantee_Header

Topps was promising their rookie-laden Bowman sets would go up in value. And if they didn't, they'd pay up with their own company dollars. I think at the time that I was too lazy to take them up on the offer. I was big into building Bowman sets during this time (I didn't want to miss out on the next Andruw Jones, if you can believe it) and I wanted to register more to see what would come in the mail if I did register. Maybe the registration was in the form of a decoder ring or something of that sort.

I wasn't thinking that the my sets wouldn't actually be worth $125. They had fragile black borders, for goodness sake. Do you know how hard it was to keep those bad boys mint? I was only then getting into collecting at a bigger scale at this point, going from the world of buying packs with allowance dollars to buying boxes with my part-time job paychecks.

Although the Bowman guarantee seems like a silly idea, it is interesting. Just advertising the guarantee on packs and boxes built confidence in those of us like me who didn't want to think too much about the principles of supply and demand. "If Topps feels good enough about their base product that they'll pay me a fair sum of money if it doesn't pan out, then this must be a good product," I remember thinking. Since it was easy to buy the packs and bust a box, I was all over that. But by the time I got to the bank to get the money order to register, that was too much work to insure myself against the unthinkable -- Bowman sets wouldn't hold their value.

Wouldn't you know - today boxes can be had for far less than their original prices. Bowman Chrome debuted in 1997, the same year as the guarantee, and became the rookie set of choice for collectors. Regular old Bowman was left for low-income earners like myself and supply far exceeded demand.

The Bowman guarantee program ran from 1997 through 2000, I believe (it may have gone on a year or two later). From a strictly financial standpoint, registering and cashing in on the guarantee would have made sense. But I actually like these sets and the fun I had building them back in the day was certainly worth it.

1998 Bowman Certified Autograph Issue Aramis Ramirez
1998 Bowman Certified Autograph Issue Aramis Ramirez
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1997 Bowman Certified Autograph Issue Richie Sexson
1997 Bowman Certified Autograph Issue Richie Sexson
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1997 Bowman Certified Autograph Issue Bobby Estalella
1997 Bowman Certified Autograph Issue Bobby Estalella
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1997 Bowman Certified Autograph Issue Ben Davis
1997 Bowman Certified Autograph Issue Ben Davis
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1999 Bowman #344 CC Sabathia Cleveland Indians C.C. RC Rookie Baseball Card
1999 Bowman #344 CC Sabathia Cleveland Indians C.C. RC Rookie Baseball Card
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1999 Bowman #344 CC Sabathia Cleveland Indians C.C. RC Rookie Baseball Card
1999 Bowman #344 CC Sabathia Cleveland Indians C.C. RC Rookie Baseball Card
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1999 Bowman #344 CC Sabathia Cleveland Indians C.C. RC Rookie Baseball Card
1999 Bowman #344 CC Sabathia Cleveland Indians C.C. RC Rookie Baseball Card
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1998 Bowman Kevin Millar & 2000 Bowman Grady Sizemore rookie cards / lot 2 /
1998 Bowman Kevin Millar & 2000 Bowman Grady Sizemore rookie cards / lot 2 /
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1998 Bowman # 71 DAVID ORTIZ RC Minnesota Twins BGS 9 MINT - Red Sox HOF !!
1998 Bowman # 71 DAVID ORTIZ RC Minnesota Twins BGS 9 MINT - Red Sox HOF !!
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2000 Bowman Baseball Factory Sealed HTA Jumbo Hobby Box 12 Packs Guaranteed Auto
2000 Bowman Baseball Factory Sealed HTA Jumbo Hobby Box 12 Packs Guaranteed Auto
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1998 Bowman (441) Complete Set Glaus, Lowell, Lee, Millwood, Ordonez, Rollins!
1998 Bowman (441) Complete Set Glaus, Lowell, Lee, Millwood, Ordonez, Rollins!
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1999 Bowman (440) Complete Set Burrell, Holliday, Hudson, Sabathia, Soriano!
1999 Bowman (440) Complete Set Burrell, Holliday, Hudson, Sabathia, Soriano!
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